First some official shots
Disclaimer: I bought the AD2000x at a very discounted price of 39,420JPY, or about ~330USD, which may color my impression, since it is a mere 30 dollars more then my AD1000x.
Audio-Technica’s Air Dynamic line of headphones has become quite popular these last couple of years. The AD700 held a cult-like following with gamers, and the release of the ADx-series has catapulted this sleeping Japanese giant into the the limelight. The AD500x, 700x, and 900x are all popular suggestions to people who want good sound without breaking the budget, and are popular among gamers for a wide soundstage. However, two of the ADx line of headphones are often overlooked, the AD1000x and Audio-Technica's flaship open-back headphone, the AD2000x.
I’m going to preface this by saying I have not spent an equal amount of time with these two headphones, I’ve owned the AD1000x for about a year now and the AD2000x for a couple of weeks. This is not a comprehensive review, merely my thoughts on them. I don’t claim to have good hearing and the music I listen to is definitely not up to any sort of “audiophile” standard. And as such I will not be giving any score, in fact this impression might not even make any sense, but I shall persevere. I have a tendency to ramble, if this were a school paper I'd probably far exceed the word limit by now, but I digress.
If you’ve ever unboxed an ADx headphone, you’ve unboxed them all really. If you’ve had a 500x/700x, just imagine a door in front of the plastic window with some marketing lines written on it. If you’ve had a 900x, it’s the exact same experience. This is a bit disappointing in the case of the AD2000x since it normally retails for a street price of around $500. But in the end it’s just a box, and it survived the plane trip to Hong Kong as well as back to my house, so it worked at least.
The 3-digit Trio vs the 4-digit Duo
There are a number of things that differentiate the 2 big boys from their little brothers. The big boys have an unremovable dual-cable design instead of a single unremovable cable, which is pretty normal in terms of higher-end headphones. Another major difference is that while the 500x/700x/900x all feature angled drivers as well as angled earcups, the 1000x/2000x only have angled earcups, and as a result the aluminum honeycomb on the outside is completely flat. Fortunately the drivers don’t touch your ear like they did on the previous models, most likely to do with the new ADx-series earpad design. Lastly they did not cheap out on the cable like the 500x/700x/900x, it doesn’t tangle easily and has the metal end with an included screw-on adaptor for 1/4in plug.
In terms of the driver, there is debate whether or not the ADx refresh actually upgraded the drivers on the lower models, as some have attributed the slightly better bass with the difference in earpad material. However, the 1000x and 2000x are the only two in the ADx-series that have been confirmed to have an upgraded driver from the older models. The diffuser has been changed a little, as you can see from the picture, the fins come out diagonally rather than straight, supposedly this reduces air turbulence. As far as people can work out, the actual diaphram and voice coil of both drivers is exactly the same, the only difference is in the AD2000x, the magnet is made from permendur, a soft iron-cobalt blend that's supposedly the bee's knees for use in a driver. Audio-Technica's flagship headphones often feature permendur, the AD2000x, A2000x, W5000, and CKM1000 are the ones I know of.
And most importantly the 1000x and 2000x are manufactured in Japan, evident by the large “JAPAN MADE” logos on the box and the Made in Japan sticker/etching on the headphones.
If I held up these two headphones, told you to stand about 10-feet away and then see if you could tell the difference, you would probably give up after a few minutes. However, closer inspection will reveal that there are actual quite a few visual and material differences between the two.
The 1000x has a completely black driver and a silver Audio-Technica logo
The 2000x has a chrome finish around the driver and a gold Audio-Technica logo
The 1000x has a magnesium frame but a mostly plastic outer-construction, with rubber surrounding the suspension bars
The 2000x has a mostly magnesium-alloy outer-construction, replacing the rubber-covered bars with thin magnesium uncovered ones.
Audio-Technica is (in)famous for it’s proprietary 3D-Wing system, which employs 2 “wings” to grab onto the top of your head and letting the headphone sort of float on your head. I’ll be the first to admit, despite my fanboyism, that it’s not for everyone. The system relies on a sufficient amount of clamping force to be applied to the upper jaw area to stay on your head. The elastic trick does work, but IMO, if you need the elastic to wear these headphones you should just stay far away. It fits me just fine though, and I find that these are very glasses-friendly headphones. The clamping force, like I mentioned previously, is usually centered around your upper jaw, not directly around your ear. This does give the headphone a weird upward tilt when you’re using it, and that does mean that you will feel like it’s falling off until you get used to it. It’s great for glasses however since it will not press your glasses nearly as much into your skull.
There’s nothing much to say about the AD1000x comfort. The earpads with their fabric-suede material is fairly supple, and while the foam is a little firm, it’s not rock hard. It will get warm, but not uncomfortably so, my ears certainly didn’t sweat.
But...man the AD2000x. The biggest disappointment with these cans were the comfort. And it has everything to do with the earpads. The earpads are soft foam, which is good, covered in a silky-smooth suede that does feel very nice to the touch. But my god are they itchy, and seems to have a random temperature mood. Sometimes it’s nice and cool and other times it’s like my ears are in a furnace. But that’s not the worst of it.
On the left is the AD1000x, and on the right is the AD2000x
If you take a look at the two shots above, you can notice that there is a slight difference in the shape of the area where your ear goes. If you didn’t notice it, I don’t blame you, it’s easier felt than seen. But while the earpad appears round in both models, they both have an “oval” shape because let’s face it, your ear is not round. Imagine for a moment the shape of an upright egg. That is the shape of the AD1000x earpads, now imagine what would happen if you rotated that egg 90 degrees right. You see the problem now? For some reason, the engineers at Audio-Technica thought that our ears lay on their side on our head. The result is a that my ear ever so slightly touches the top wall of the earpad, and over time it becomes really painful. I realized this was why I was having comfort problems when I was browsing through the ADx-series thread on Head-Fi. At first they believed it to be a fluke, but when multiple people did come out and say that the earpads were indeed uncomfortable and they had replaced them with alternatives, it was no manufacturing defect.
This is a grave, grave oversight by Audio-Technica and I really hope they realize this and fix it in later revisions on the product, but it seems nobody has gotten the word yet since my specific headphone was manufactured in October, 2014. Fortunately, transplanting the AD1000x pads onto the 2000x fixed all of the problems and I’ve ordered a pair of new pads from Audio-Technica USA. I have no way of returning the 2000x anyway, since I bought it physically in Japan. I think I’m gonna shoot an email to Audio-Technica and hopefully they’ll read it.
All right...phew, cool down. Rant is over now...lemme drink some water.
And show you how silly I look with headphones on.
Unfortunately, I have not owned a pair of lower ADx headphones, and my only experience with them is in a noisy store floor in Japan, so I’ll direct y'all to Lachlanlikesathing, aka a_recording on Head-Fi, though he is now retired from the site for good reasons. He has a video about the 900x and 1000x, and a comprehensive writeup comparing these two headphones to the Sony MA900 on Head-Fi as well. While I did come to the same conclusions even after listening in a noisy environment, it’s better to have an opinion from proper use of the cans The links are below.
If you don’t want to watch or read the comparisons. I’ll quickly summarize that compared to the rest of the ADx line, the 4-digit boys offer a similar sound, Audio-Technica’s house-sound as many like to call it. Not a ton of bass, forward mids, and sparkle in the treble. However the 4-digit boys are ironically more colored than their little brothers, and have a particular emphasis on the upper bass, which give them a very punchy, fast bass, and on the upper mids, which really brings out female vocals. The non-angled drivers also make the 1000x/2000x a more intimate experience, they have a smaller soundstage but the soundstage is less diffuse with more of a sense of 3D space. If you're looking for a V-shaped can, turn around and walk away, the bass is good, fast, and extends surprisingly well, but it isn't dominant.
Now to compare the 1000x and the 2000x. All of my listening on these cans are done on Windows 8.1 in Foobar. I have an ROG Hero, which means it’s a Realtek ALC1150 with SupremeFX. I also have a Mayflower Objective 2 driving the headphones, which is more for convenience than anything else.
My general consensus is this, the AD1000x and AD2000x are very, very, very, VERY similar. And fortunately very well suited for my particular tastes in music.
Both the 1000x and 2000x shine the best with songs that have stringed instruments, and more importantly female vocals, specifically, Japanese female vocals.
Surprised it’s so specific? You shouldn’t be, Audio-Technica is a giant in Japan. It along with Sony make up a huge market share in the Japanese personal audio space, where obviously the main thing that people listen to is J-pop and classical. That particular emphasis on the upper mids is probably the biggest reason why this is the case.
Female singers in Western countries tend to have the most power right smack in the middle of the mid-range, but IMO, the majority of Japanese singers are most powerful right where the emphasis is, in the upper mid-range. The fast, punchy bass is also very well suited to faster styles of EDM, which is the basis of today’s modern Electro-Pop. But all gives way to the powerful female vocals of the song. In a way, these cans are very aggressive, but never harsh. One of the differences I was able to discern between the 900x and the 1000x in the noisy store floor was that certain aggressive electronic lines became very sibilant and harsh on the 900x, which was one of the reasons why I eventually bought the 1000x in 2013.
And finally, the difference between the big cojones and the little cajones. Well first lets get power out of the way, my O2 is definitely overkill for these headphones, they are both 40ohms and have 100+ db/mW of sensitivity, I can drive them just fine on both my Nexus 5 and iPhone 6. As far as loudness goes, the 2000x is a little bit more sensitive than the 1000x. And as far as signature goes, they are exactly the same...
Except the 2000x’s mids are even more forward and even more pronounced. It’s very slight, but it’s enough for me to invoke what made the AD2000 famous among its owners. “Magic mids.” Something about that slight bump just makes female vocals become magical. It’s as if the singer is right there, and she’s being illuminated by her own voice.
If you don't really understand, here's my visual example (pls dont judge)
Also fuck Nagisa, Chieri is the best girl.
Because of the "magic mids," the AD1000x actually sounds laid-back in comparison to the AD2000x. It's like two sides of the same coin, one is in your face and hogs the spotlight, while the other is subtle, but just as sublime. And frankly I should have expected that, the design of the AD1000x is much more conservative, with it's all black driver, silver logo, and rubberized bars. The AD2000x screams "LOOK AT ME!" with it's chrome-finish and elegant metal build. It's not all good though, there are times where I do prefer the more laid-back signature of the 1000x.
It's ironic that the upper-tier ADx headphones are more colored than the lower-tier ones, and even more ironic that the flagship, TOTL model is the most colored of them all. And apparently the AD2000 were even more colored, the x-refresh dialed it back a bit. But in the end, the AD2000x is still a "better" headphone. It's direction is more clear, more precise. It's not a headphone that everyone will like, but it does things outside it's comfort-zone reasonably well and when it does shine, it shines brilliantly. The AD1000x may be a little better at all-rounding, but it's still only 99% of the headphone the AD2000x is. And I guess that's what you pay for in the 2000x, that last 1% to bring you to it's land of magic.
Standouts in my library included:
CLICK - ClariS, from the album PARTY TIME (I have the Mora.jp version, which is much better mastered then the CD)
Fuyu ga Kureta Yokan - BiBi (Nanjou Yoshino, Pile, Tokui Sora), from Love Live!
A/Z - Mizuki, Aldnoah Zero End Theme
BRE@TH//LESS - Kobayashi Miya, from Aldnoah Zero Original Soundtrack
Violin Sonata No. 9 (Kreutzer) Movement No. 1 - Shinohara Yuuna, Kawachi Eriko, from Your Lie in April
i Love - azusa, Amagami SS Opening Theme (IMO one of the best mastered anisongs in a while)
Chase the world - May’n, Accel World Opening Theme
Snow Promenade - P∴Rhythmatiq, from P∴Rhythmatiq Act. 01
We’ll Be Okay (Part 2) - Finish Ticket, from Shake A Symphony (probably the only male vocal song here)
Beautiful World -PLANiTb Acoustica Mix- - Utada Hikaru, from Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance Soundtrack
And now, let's get back to reality. That's it really, the extra money is for the permendur (soft iron-cobalt) magnetic circuitry and the extra bump in the mids. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to convince me that the AD2000x is a great headphone. However, I must take into account the price for people who can't exactly visit Japan and buy it for the price I got it at. The AD1000x is a $300 headphone, which is already a lot for someone not used to spending $470 on a diamond USB cable (wink wink nudge nudge), but I think it's definitely worth the extra money over the AD900x, maybe not double the price but it's a noticeable enough increase in listening pleasure to warrant a price increase (when the 900x was about $200 the 1000x was better value). But at nearly $500, the AD2000x isn't exactly the best deal, paying $200 more for that extra 1% probably is not the greatest idea. The price has also risen on Amazon Japan to about 54,000 yen so using a forwarding service isn't that cheap right now either.
I’ll end with this, I should’ve been satisfied with the AD1000x, it’s 99% of the headphone the AD2000x is. But like many things in life, there are things you should buy, and things you just want to own. I wanted to own the AD2000x, this headphone was not a rational purchase, but rather an emotional one. And despite some bumps, I don’t regret it.
P.S. I almost was lured away to the Sennheiser Mustard Race...because of this:
At current exchange rates this is about $850, second hand...I was so tempted.
God, I can't believe people watch Unbox Therapy. He doesn't know shit about anything. He makes videos of hot items but gives the consumer no information just the box specs and hype. Like that one time he did a Darkvoice video, uses his iPhone as a source, and the HD8DJ as headphone of choice. Hello? HD8DJ is like 90ohms, and the Darkvoice most definitely has more than 1/8 of that in output impedance.
And those "Unboxing All iPhone Colors" shit just drives me insane, people can literally go to any Apple store and look at the colors there.
While some motherboards have a seperate op-amp that they activate when using the front panel jacks, the vast majority just run off the stock codec which sends amped signal out of both ends. If this weren't the case, you wouldn't be able to use headphones in the back panel jacks. So either way, you're going to be double amping.
For Windows DirectSound, I recommend the following.
Set your bit-depth to 24-bit or higher, this means that if you use computer audio to control volume, the bits that are shaved off to lower the volume does not effect any regular 16-bit music.
Set your sampling rate to 44.1khz, while 48khz is more used in video and gaming, resampling does not effect the experience nearly as much as listening to music. This means that any 44.1khz file (most music) will simply be sent to the DAC without any resampling
You don't need a sound card for gaming. Gaming soundcards area literally just the same components on your typical onboard or cheaper soundcard, slapped onto a PCB with some extra shielding, and sold to consumers for a huge markup.
If you want to spend money, you get a Schiit Fulla 2 / Micca Origen, those are half the price and offer better quality and features. If the thing you really wanted was that control center that could go on your desk, they have it, as both have an up-facing volume knob great for desk use.
It's actually a very strange number. A solid-state usually provides it's max current at the lowest possible impedance, while your amp acts more like an OTL tube amp. It shouldn't effect anything, just weird.
I practice what I preach. Streaming services are an absolute cancer to the industry, you might as well be pirating with how little money they pay. Buying CD's is a PITA, but its better than supporting cancer.
Red Book is an old standard, it was first introduced in 1980 and made a standard in 1987. Back then PC's weren't really popular, and MP3 players weren't really a thing yet, so the main consumption of CD's was from CD players which don't have a screen anyway (or a small one that didn't display any info).
And it doesn't help that CD sales have sharply declined worldwide (except in Japan, where almost 3/4 of all music sales are physical goods), so the industry just has no incentive to change it.
What kind of . wav are we talking here? Thew .wav that Microsoft programs like to pump away at like a cheap hooker from Cape Breton, or a Broadcast WAV that contains metadata and SMPTE timestamping to allow timeline alignment in most professional audio/video solutions? This distinction needs to be made.